Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fueling for Morning Runs

Leading up to Vegas, I began doing most of my runs in the evening, for two reasons. First, the race was in the evening, so I was trying to prep my body to know when it was time to run. Second, I just couldn't complete any kind of hard workouts in the morning on an empty stomach, and I could never seem to get up early enough to eat such that I would feel "fueled" on the run.  And I noticed a big difference in the energy I had for evening runs. I would have had at least a half day of eating (800 calories ish) and then would time a carb-y snack about 2 hours before the workout (a single banana or 3 shot blocks - around 100 calories of pure carbs - was the best).

Yesterday I did an easy 9 miles in the morning with some fartleks thrown in, having only drunk a coffee beforehand. This is pretty typical for my easy runs, and I don't mind feeling a little sluggish for them. But this time my legs felt very heavy. I posted the below comment on my fast running blog:

Legs felt heavy and my easy pace felt a bit harder today (outside of the fartleks, avg pace would have been around 8:15). I only ate a salad and a dish of scallops last night; virtually no carbs. Hadnt really thought about it before, but every time I have Mexican, and chow down on a bunch of fried delicious tortilla chips, I have a great run the next day. Must attempt to incorporate more carbs (and more healthy ones) in the evening meals.

So I ask any readers out there:

If you run in the morning, and need to do a hard workout (ie speed or tempo) that requires serious energy, how many hours before you run, do you eat? How much do you eat?  Does anyone know how quickly we digest and absorb carbs so they are actually usable on a run? Is it better to just eat a hefty meal the night before?  Do people just eat to not be uber hungry on the run? 

 On race mornings, I try to eat 2 hours before the race and get in at least a few hundred (300-400) calories of carbs... That seems like a lot for just a training run... but is it?

- Penny


  1. I hate unfueled runs, even easy ones! Downing a very small amount of oatmeal (less than 1/4 cup) about 20 minutes before I start out makes a huge difference. By the time I am warmed up, I have just enough fuel, but no discomfort in my stomach. ~K

  2. I almost only run in the morning, and almost never eat beforehand. I just eat huge dinners. Not so much that I go to bed stuffed, but enough calories to fuel me up to 15 miles in the a.m. Which is to say my dinner+dessert is typically at least 1400-1800 calories.